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Fan Yew Teng, a towering Malaysian

By Lim Guan Eng

[THE ROCKET]Salam sejahtera buat para hadirin sekelian,

Pada malam ini kita berada di sini sebagai satu tanda penghormatan yang amat besar buat pemimpin yang kita hormati Saudara Fan Yew Teng yang telah meninggalkan kita buat selama-lamanya.

Sama ada kita dari golongan muda atau tua, amat penting bagi kita semua untuk memperingati jasa besar seorang insan yang bernama Fan Yew Teng ini yang telah berpenat-lelah berjuang untuk menegakkan keadilan dan demokrasi, bukan sahaja di Malaysia tetapi juga di peringkat antarabangsa.

Saudara Fan bukan sahaja seorang pemimpin besar DAP dan pejuang demokrasi di Malaysia tetapi nama beliau juga harum di rantau Asia serta global atas perjuangannya menentang imperialisme dan penjajahan baru oleh kuasa-kuasa besar dunia.

Perjuangan beliau bukan sekadar di medan politik, sama ada di pentas parti atau Dewan Undangan Negeri serta Dewan Rakyat, tetapi juga dalam dunia penulisan dan akademik. Malah beliau juga amat aktif dalam badan-badan bukan kerajaan atau NGO seperti Suaram dan Cenpeace.

Apakah perjuangan beliau menjadikannya sebagai orang yang ternama dan hidup mewah? Tidak sekali-kali. Kehidupannya tetap sederhana sehingga ke saat akhir. Malah, habuan perjuangannya penuh dengan duri dan air mata. Beliau terpaksa turun naik mahkamah kerana ditekan oleh kerajaan Barisan Nasional. Beliau hilang kelayakan sebagai Ahli Parlimen kerana dijatuhkan hukuman oleh mahkamah semata-mata tulisannya yang menegakkan keadilan.

Namun, semua itu tidak pernah mematikan semangat beliau untuk terus berjuang ke titisan darah terakhir. Itulah nilai perjuangan. Itulah harga perjuangan menegakkan keadilan.

Izinkan saya meneruskan ucapan dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

Saudara Fan Yew Teng will always be remembered as a special, unique and great humanist. Some called him a DAP stalwart, some thought of him as a champion of human rights and some others knew him as an international advocate for peace. Many remembered him as a prolific political writer as well as a socially-concerned poet.

One thing for sure, Saudara Fan was a true freedom fighter, both domestically and internationally. To DAP, Saudara Fan will always be remembered and recognized as an idealist who had stayed true to the principles of our struggle – social democracy.

Not only he was an ardent and hard working wakil rakyat, he was also the promoter of social justice which is part and parcel of DAP’s struggle since the party’s inception in 1966. From the days when our guiding principles were based on democratic socialism with the cry of “Malaysian Malaysia” to today’s social democratic “Malaysian First”, the contribution of Saudara Fan had helped us a lot in shaping our political beliefs and the fight for democracy in today’s Malaysia.

His passion for racial justice motivated him to make common cause with DAP again after he saw my unjust incarceration under the Sediton Act and Printing Presses & Publications Act in Kajang Prison on 1998. He told me how outraged he was that I was imprisoned even though everyone knew I had done nothing wrong in defending an underaged girl who was raped but yet detained whilst her rapists got off scot-free.

The fact that the girl was a Malay was only coincidental yet significant for Fan as an embodiment for his belief that fairplay and justice is an inalienable right of all Malaysians regardless of race and religion.

He was fearless too. When the party was shorn of its top leaders after the May 13 riots, when Lim Kit Siang was detained under the ISA and our then Secretary-General had cold feet and abandoned ship, Fan was there to keep the flame burning.

He was a target of arrest too but he managed to evade arrest by going “underground”. When the government could not get him by detaining him without trial, they persecuted him with court prosecutions under the Sedition Act. Fan never faltered nor wilted, bravely faced them in court even though he knew it was futile. After all one must submit to rule of law and face them in open court, even though the prosecution process is flawed.

Even when Fan stayed outside the party for a while, his principles were always the same. Hence, DAP was more than happy to embrace him back  when he decided to return to the fold.  Unlike certain people who had gone the opposite way and defected when they left the party, Saudara Fan was forever committed to his belief of the brotherhood of man, the fight for liberty, equality and fraternity.

Many of our friends, comrades and family members here tonight have spoken in beautiful and passionate language about this true patriot, the real Malaysian whose only wish was to have a truly equal, democratic and peaceful Malaysia. In that sense, Fan was a towering Malaysian. Not towering in the sense of building 100-storey buildings or accumulating ill-gotten gains or abusing power and exploiting fellow Malaysians. But a towering Malaysian in ideas, ideals, faith, hope and love.

Lest we forget, let me remind those who are with us here tonight as well as all Malaysians and other global citizens, of what Saudara Fan who in his own words had this to say:

“For how long more are Malaysians to live with fear and loathing? Afraid about the collapse of public safety even in broad daylight, and disgusted by rising inflation and galloping corruption. How much longer? Surely it is in the hands of the Malaysian people themselves.” (Harakah, December 2007)

And surely it is our mission to complete his work and mission. Let us celebrate the passage of this remarkable man, this towering Malaysian by making the change we all thought impossible possible.

To his beloved wife Dr Noeleen Hayzer and twin daughters Pauline and Lilliane, may I once again offer my deepest condolences. His loss is painful and irreplaceable. And he will always have a special place in our hearts for his leadership, his contributions, his ideals and his dreams that will stay with us forever.

RIP Fan.

Tribute By Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng At The DAP Fan Yew Teng Memorial In Kuala Lumpur On 5 January 2011.[THE ROCKET]